Young person’s takeover: ‘We need to listen to young people’s voices now more than ever’

Paul Webb, is head of youth work for the Mancroft Advice Project (MAP). Here is what he had to say about the pandemic.

City College Norwich logo. Picture: CCN

City College Norwich logo. Picture: CCN - Credit: City College Norwich

Covid-19 has to be one of the most challenging times in recent history to grow up as a young person. The pandemic has effected young people dramatically with education, careers, mental health and family life all having a huge impact on individuals. This is after young people have had multiple barriers put in their way before the pandemic, with the world being vastly more complicated and harder than the one previous generations grew up in.

There are the pressures of social media, stretched and underfunded public services, a mental health crisis, child exploitation on the rise, cuts to youth services, young people’s wages being dramatically less than those over 25. The list goes on and on. It would be easy for young people to give up and think ‘What’s the point?”.

However, what we’ve seen throughout the pandemic is young people standing up and using their voices like never before. Showing resilience, courage and doing their bit to help others. Across Norfolk’s Youth Advisory Boards (YABs) young people have been doing extraordinary work to improve the lives of their peers, their local communities and those most in need. Young people have been sending letters of support to the elderly in care homes, influencing the redesign a new mental health service in Norfolk and working with local politicians to ensure young people are heard. They have campaigned on young people’s transgender rights, undertaken anti-racism work, lobbied for better public transport and celebrated virtual Pride. All this whilst in lockdown.

Young people’s futures are looking uncertain right now, but one certainty is that they should be at the forefront of shaping their own futures. Young people have to be front and centre in meeting the challenges they face, with those in power hearing their voices and acting accordingly on how society should respond and rebuild. People that have influence need to take young people’s concerns and suggestions seriously or risk making mistakes that could impact on generations to come, at this crucial time in history.

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This newspaper amplifying young people’s voices in the paper this week is a great opportunity to shine a light on what young people have to say and others should follow suit. When young people lead and are involved in the things that directly affect them, we get more things right.

- The impact of Covid on young people is the subject of a special online debate involving teenagers from the region. Sponsored by City College Norwich and in association with MAP, it will be hosted by EDP editor David Powles tonight (Tuesday, September 15) at 5pm. To watch or take part in the debate click the link here .

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